Compleat Golfer looks back on five times when the South African flag was hoisted to the top and claimed victory at the national championship of the United States.
Gary Player and Kel Nagle were involved in a Monday playoff after tying at two-over 282 at Bellerive Country Club. In the playoff, Player shot a 71 to his opponent’s 74 to become the first foreign-born winner of the US Open since 1927. The win also completed his Grand Slam at the age of 29, and it was the fourth of his nine Majors.
Ernie Els picked up his first Major when the tournament went to a Monday conclusion after he, Colin Montgomerie and Loren Roberts had all finished the 72 holes in five-under 279. In the 18-hole playoff, Els and Roberts shot 74s (Montgomerie was eliminated after a 78) and the 24-year-old South African then went on to triumph on the second hole of a sudden-death playoff.
Els picked up his second US Open when beating Montgomerie by one shot at Congressional CC, after both had closed with 69s. Els finished four-under par to capture the second of his four Major titles.
Enter Retief Goosen. Having led after a first-round 66 at Southern Hills CC, the ‘Goose’ shared the halfway lead with Mark Brooks and JL Lewis, before a third-round 69 left him in a 54-hole tie with Stewart Cink. Goosen missed a two-foot putt on the final hole to fall into a Monday playoff with Brooks (four-under 266). In the playoff Goosen shot a level-par 70, while Brooks had a 72.
Three years later Goosen won his second US Open, at Shinnecock Hills. He led Els and Phil Mickelson by two shots heading into the final 18 holes, where he and Mickelson shot 71s (Els had an 80) and Goosen ended a winner by two shots over the American, on four-under 276.